Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Mill stream in Quimperle, France

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Chronological Reading Plan for May 14, 2 Chr 13-17

Today's readings are 2 Chr 13-17.

2 Chr 13 looks at Abijah a bit more charitably than 1 Kgs 15 but still exposes his weaknesses.

2 Chr 14-15 reveals that Abijah’s successor and son, Asa is a good and godly king. He enacts a significant set of reforms and leads Judah in putting away false idols and turning back to God. His sweeping changes are not just hearsay for the sake of others, they are personal for the king. Asa deposes his mother for worshipping a false god (2 Chr 15:16). As extensive as Asa’s reform are, he too fails to remove all the “high places,” the pagan worship sites, from Judah (2 Chr 15:17).

Nonetheless, later in his career, Asa misguidedly decides to turn to Syria’s King Ben-hadad for help when Israel’s King Baasha attacks Judah (2 Chr 16:1-6).

Asa, like Solomon before him and many that will follow, should depend on God to protect and provide for His children, not worldly alliances. A prophet, Hanani, informs Asa of his error. This seems to be a turning point for Asa. He succumbs to being overly sensitive and reacts harshly to what he perceives to be criticism. He imprisons Hanani and begins to treat some of his people cruelly (2 Chr 7-10). His action reveals a self-righteousness that has apparently been hidden up to this point. Asa’s foundational mistake is in failing to understand that Hanani was sent by God to help Asa, not criticize him. God never disciplines His children to punish them, but to bring them closer to Him. Asa’s anger and his treatment of the prophet and the people is a rejection of God’s word.

Asa's error is further exacerbated when he contracts a disease and relies on physicians instead of the Lord (2 Chr 16:11-12). This is not an indictment against medical care. God provides us with doctors and medicines for His glory. Asa's struggle was in not trusting God first and foremost. Seeking medical treatment is not an ungodly thing to do. Thinking the doctor can do something that God cannot is a grievous error. 

One of the lessons we can learn from these first kings of Judah is that we should always be on guard about where we place our trust and who or what we depend upon. God is our provider, protector, and our preservation. When our situations get tense, it's easy to turn away from God and look to those around us...or even ourselves...to get us out of trouble. Placing God in a lower priority in our lives can be the start of a slippery slide.

Asa’s son, Jehoshaphat assumes the throne upon Asa’s death. He continues in the godly ways of his father’s early career, teaching the word of God and going a step further. Jehoshaphat removes the high places. He gains respect among the people and among the neighboring nations while fortifying Judah’s major cities (2 Chr 17:1-19).

There is a stark contrast between Israel and Judah at this point. Jehoshaphat leads Judah in godliness while Israel continues to move away from God. Judah is blessed. Israel's struggles begin to multiply.

Has Judah learned their lesson? Will Israel learn theirs? The story is just beginning to get interesting.

Know this, Israel's slide did not happen overnight. It started when they were unjustly treated by Rehoboam (2 Chr 10). This is a key point. Their indignation over being treated "unfairly" caused bitterness to grow, resulting in the division God warned them not to allow to happen. Israel's slide began in self-righteous anger and a demand for their rights. While there is nothing wrong with speaking up for our rights, that should never threaten the unity of God's people. Furthermore, it should never become a cause for anger or bitterness. Look where it has gotten Israel so far. Watch where it takes them.  

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